Forage Aid – Charity Partner
Forage Aid was established in March 2013 by Andrew Ward MBE, an arable farmer from Lincolnshire.
In March 2013 there was an unprecedented amount of snow in the livestock areas of Wales, Cumbria and North Yorkshire. Snow drifts hit up to 30 feet deep and many sheep were buried alive. Initially, Andrew sent some haylage of his own, which was being used to feed his daughters horses and Househam Sprayers delivered it free of charge. Through Farmers Weekly, social media, local and national TV & Radio, Forage Aid grew and was being offered loads of feed and bedding from all over the UK, all free of charge.
In order to establish which farms required assistance, Forage Aid worked closely with The Farming Community Network (FCN) and Addington Fund, along with individuals based in Wales and Cumbria who assessed each holding to inform Andrew which were in most urgent need.
By using contacts through the UK, by the end of July 2013, 73 loads of feed and bedding had been offered and all moved free of charge to 56 individual farmers. The generosity was overwhelming, it is estimated that the value of the goods donated came to £155,000.
Another acute forage crisis occurred in Somerset when floods hit 32,000 acres in February 2014. Over 1000 cattle, 2000 sheep, 150 Horses and 100 homes and their pets were evacuated overnight with flood depths of 3m in places, which lasted for 3 months. An appeal put out on Radio Four’s Farming today programme and national news footage of the cattle evacuation meant that within a few days there were pledges of feed and bedding being made, overwhelming the affected farmers James and Jenny Winsalade along with Rebecca Horsington, NFU and the Livestock Market in Bridgewater who were dealing with the initial crisis. Andrew and Ed Ford on behalf of Essex Young Farmers Club (YFC) quickly became involved.
These five of the now current trustees came together to form an action group action group which included key stakeholders such as NFU, FWAG and RABI and FCN. In total, just over 30 farmers received help with 200 loads delivered with an estimated value of goods reaching £350,000.
Many businesses such as Tesco, HSBC Bank, Househam Sprayers, Syngenta, BASF, Agrii, Simba Great Plains, Monsanto, GrowHow fertilisers, JCB, Branston (Lincoln) Limited, grain stores such as Cam grain, Crediton Mill and Mole Valley farmers along with local dealerships Smarts, Bigwoods Agri and Compass Tractors, not to mention hundreds of independent farmers, YFC members, the hunting fraternity and local Somerset businesses assisted Forage Aid not only with forage supply and haulage but also through loan of machinery and logistical support of deliveries to affected farms.
Due to the UK weather becoming more volatile, it was decided to make Forage Aid a Registered Charity. This process was completed in April 2015 and is overseen by nine Trustees; Rebecca Horsington, James Winslade, Jenny Winslade, Ed Ford, Tom Hind, Mike Buchan, Meurig Raymond, Neil Wilson and Andrew Ward as Chairman. The Charities mission statement being ‘’a charity that supports farmers in the United Kingdom with a Defra holding number, whose livestock has been affected by extreme weather, by providing forage/bedding to those in need’’.
The last extreme crisis in which Forage Aid was operational was on the 6th December 2015 when 320mm of rain fell in just 24 hours in Cumbria. It was estimated to cost the economy £500 million. The first load was moved on 12th December 2015. There were 420 loads offered throughout the United Kingdom but only 115 were required. The total value of good equated to £220,000 with 48 farmers receiving help. The last load was moved on 16th June 2016.
The summer drought of 2018 meant many livestock farmers started their winter supply of forage early. However the current mild winter in early 2019 has meant that Forage Aid has received limited calls for help.
Forage Aid operates on the good will of the Nation, donating in the form of monetary donations via JustGiving or physical donations of feed, forage and bedding. The haulage is offered voluntarily and the charity also relies on Regional Co-ordinators to assist on the ground wherever the crisis may happen. This is a key focus at present as the Charity is currently working to build a list of Regional Co-ordinators and hauliers. The charity is also investing in a new database at present which will assist greatly with the logistics of co-ordinating the donations to the recipients.
Forage Aid works extremely closely with the other ‘Farming Help’ charities which currently include Addington Fund, The Farming Community Network and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I). All three of these charities work in different ways to provide various forms of support to the farming community.